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Archbishop Welcomes Government Announcement on Credit Unions

Wednesday 2nd July 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, has today welcomed an announcement by the Treasury that legislation will be brought forward to assist Credit Unions.

Commenting on the statement by Kitty Ussher MP, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, the Archbishop said:

"I welcome the plans, announced yesterday [Monday 31 June] by the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, for helping Credit Unions. The positive benefits that Credit Union membership brings to communities are manifold, especially to those on low incomes. These proposals, which include allowing groups as well as individuals to become members, and which enable Credit Unions to pay interest on members' deposits, are very good news indeed. As a result the Credit Union movement will grow and be able to provide its services to a much wider number of people  - especially local community and religious groups and people on low incomes - who may otherwise have to rely on less affordable or reliable loan options."

The Archbishop's response follows his previous call about Credit Unions, made during his House of Lords debate in April on credit and indebtedness. In that debate he said:

"The encouragement of locally based, entirely trustworthy, user-friendly, educationally sensitive and confidence-building methods of managing debt should be among government's highest priorities in combating the poverty traps that I have described....It is much to be hoped that fresh legislation will bring increased flexibility by, for example, enabling credit unions to work with corporate members—small family businesses, religious groups active in community work, local co-operative networks and so on—and giving the option to members of paying interest on continuing savings retained in the credit union, rather than receiving a dividend....Furthermore, a broadening of the definition of a common bond area to enable the services of a credit union to be shared across different localities would help these organisations to move more effectively into neighbourhoods where there is no accessible credit. All these new liberties might make the credit union movement in due course as significant a presence in our credit economy as it is elsewhere."

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